Tag Archives: Alexei Emelin

Rangers Grab Game 1

The crowd was primed, Ginette Reno belted out O Canada in stirring fashion, and the Canadiens in the first 20 minutes belted bodies and pelted 15 shots at the Rangers net while allowing just 5.

It looked like it was gonna be a rip-roaring, rootin’ tootin’ affair at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night, with the happy crowd filling Peel and Crescent St. later to celebrate the return of joyous hockey in Montreal.

But a fine and somewhat flukey backhand shot by Tanner Glass in the first, and an empty-netter as the clock wore down, and the Rangers take the always-important first game 2-0. Now fans filling the pubs in downtown Montreal must debate their team’s lack of scoring instead of high-fiving and toasting friends and strangers alike.

The Canadiens were flying in the first, energized by the building, the anthem, the atmosphere in hockey’s greatest city, and the wondrous anticipation leading up to the puck drop, but were ultimately foiled by Henrik Lundqvist and a tight and disciplined Rangers squad.

Montreal’s wings were trimmed in the second and third as the visitors stood tall in the neutral zone, were stingy in their end, and with Lundqvist on his game, they made life way too difficult for the good guys.

Yes, it was a bummer to lose the opener. Adjustments need to be made. Nikita Nesterov, awkward on defence, needs to sit. Scorers need to score. Shooters need to hit the net. Centremen need to win important faceoffs. The team has to be better in their own end.

In fact, nothing really changed from the regular season when scorers weren’t scoring, pucks missed nets, faceoffs were lost, and confusion reigned often in their own end.

Friday has to be different. Imagine going down two games before hitting Broadway. Not gonna happen is my prediction.

Random Notes:

Shots were 31 apiece.

Alexei Emelin, still healing, didn’t play, and I for one wouldn’t mind seeing the big fellow in the lineup sooner than soon. The team has to smash these bastards like they did in the first period of the opener. But for 60 minutes next time.

Last year, THE SEASON FROM HELL, saw the Canadiens score 221 times over 82 games. This season they managed 226, five more.

Last year the team allowed 236 goals, while this year it was just 200, which shows what happens when Carey Price is healthy. And last season they finished with 82 points while this season was 103 points.

A different team, a new lease on life. Expected to make a big dent in the postseason. But they’re not scoring. Not yet anyway.

 

 

Stuck By Sabres

The Canadiens scored just once (Tomas Plekanec), while the Buffalo Sabres netted two, which means, um…..the Sabres’ win ends the Canadiens five-game winning streak.

It was a meaningless tilt for the Habs standings-wise, although continuing along their red-hot path would’ve been nice. Momentum is always good.

But it was also meaningful because Carey Price was almost hurt after getting bowled over (and who knows, maybe he is hurt), and Alexei Emelin went off late in the second and never returned.

Please Mr. Cleghorn and the rest of the Habs hockey gods, no injuries now with just two games left before the postseason. Is it asking too much?

And gods, please have the Canadiens hit the net sometimes. Is that also asking too much? Hit the net for ***** sakes. High, wide, just missed, close, high again, wide again.

Damn.

Friday at home against Tampa Bay, and Saturday in Detroit before we get down to the nitty gritty next week. Once again, Sprague and gang, no injuries and better aim please.

Big Game, Big Win

The Ottawa Senators and their fans could almost taste first place in the Atlantic Division, and indeed, it almost happened.

Almost.

Settled in overtime on goals from Paul Byron and Alex Radulov, the Canadiens stretch their lead slightly over Ottawa to two points, and if Montreal can do it  again on Sunday against those same Sens, it’ll be a fine four-point lead, with the best part being the mind game part.

The part that says the Habs know perfectly well that they can handle this red-hot bunch from . And for the Sens, it’s the sobering thought that maybe they can’t beat the Canadiens when the going gets tough.

Back and forth the two teams went in a game that was much less boring than most this season, with Andrew Shaw giving his team the lead in the second period before Ottawa would score a couple to take the lead into the third.

The final frame saw Philip Danault tie it up, and 31 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher would fire one from a bad angle to give the boys the lead again.

But with just 4:57 left, Ottawa tied it to the cheers of the four thousand Sens fans at the Canadian Tire Centre, and after a scoreless overtime, the Byron/Radu combo stole the show to the cheers of the fifteen thousand Habs fans.

A fine outing for Montreal, aside from a whack of giveaways and blunders mostly early on. And if Alexei Emelin, who was a healthy scratch on this night, has become your favourite whipping boy, maybe you could share some of your wrath now for Jeff Petry, who wasn’t any better on this night than Emelin was the previous game. Why should Emelin take all the blame?

But I really don’t want you to have a favourite whipping boy. We’re all in this together, management, players, and fans. It’s time to support our team and everyone on it, with the playoffs just around the corner.

And that includes pulling for guys who have off nights.

The Canadiens won a huge game, and makes my heart soar like birds at the fishing hole.

Random Notes:

Carey Price held the fort for the most part, and although Sunday’s game means back-to-back, we need him between the pipes for that one too.

Rest in Peace, Chuck Berry.

On this day in 1892, Lord Stanley announced that he was donating his cup to hockey. Here it is here.

Habs Vs Hawks – Close But No Cigar

Dick Irvin Sr, who played for the Hawks in the late-’20s before his coaching career, which included Montreal, began. Dick would be 124 if he was still around (125 in July).

The Canadiens couldn’t quite get it done, falling 4-2 to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, and if you like your glass half-full you could say Montreal sits at 8-3 in their last 11 games.

But if you’re a half-empty type of person, you might say they’ve lost two of their last three.

And the kind of person I am? Mostly a half-full kind of guy except when I’m not. And as I’ve said many times, the regular season will be long forgotten when pucks are dropped to begin the postseason.

Tuesday night in snowy Montreal, the home team fell behind 3-0 in the third frame, but red-hot Paul Byron banged home a rebound to ruin Corey Crawford’s shutout, and soon after, Shea Weber blasted one from the blueline to narrow it to 3-2.

A great comeback by the Habs. Exciting. Tense. Stressful. Stirring. And then Jonathan Toews found the empty net to salt it away for Chicago and ruin all that’s pure and good.

It was an ‘almost’ type of thing. Corey Crawford stood on his head throughout, as the Canadiens outshot the Hawks 39-24, but try as they may, Montreal skaters as a whole are snakebitten. They have a tough time scoring. But again, the playoffs are a different ball of wax completely. The scoring will probably start then!

There’s the half-full thing again.

I’d say that the boys miss the net way too much but they probably know that.  But the fierce rally late in the game that would sadly fall short for Montreal made my heart soar like a clown or a duck or something, flying around with an umbrella.

Random Notes:

A couple of big games coming up the Habs, as they meet the Sens in Ottawa on Saturday and then host those same Ottawans on Sunday. Yes, as much as the regular season will be forgotten come playoff time, these are huge games for both teams. Time to kick some sand in the faces of Sens players and their fans.

And one last thing. I’m guessing that Alexei Emelin will be an easy target now, considering how he was out of position on a couple of Chicago’s goals.

But I’m sticking up for him because I think the pros outweigh the cons for Mr. Emelin. He lets loose thunderous hits, he’s a bone-crunching bummer for players racing down the side with him waiting, and he has a good shot from the point. I like his old-time hockey style and I appreciate anyone on the Canadiens, including him, who plays a rugged game.

He reminds me of Gilles Marotte, who dished out Emelin-like checks for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, and St. Louis in the 1960s and ’70s,

The problem is, quite often the lights are on but nobody’s home for the Russian rearguard.

 

Canadiens Nail Leafs

A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.

If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.

It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.

Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.

A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.

Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.

But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.

A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.

The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.

Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.

In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.

In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.

And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.

This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.

 

Therrien Gets Boot

I know that my friend Mike Williamson, for more than six decades a Habs fan, is pissed about the Therrien firing.

Not because Therrien was fired, that’s a great thing! But because he feels Claude Julien is just another old retread, as Therrien was. Both with two kicks at the can, and it should’ve been time for fresh blood.

Kirk Muller should’ve gotten the chance, says Mike. He liked the idea of Gerard Gallant coming back too.

I’m fine with having Julien on board. Or pretty well anybody else for that matter. Not Patrick Roy, but pretty well anybody. I’m a wait and see guy with Julien, and maybe he’ll help jumpstart a team that needs to send the wives to Powell River, put their heads down, look within themselves and not like what they see, and climb out of this freefall with whatever inner and outer strength it takes.

The fact is, even with a healthy Carey Price, the team now looks almost as bad as last year’s. And if they’re even close to last year’s futility after the dust settles, I know my soul will go dead and I’ll spend my remaining years drooling and maybe trying to understand cricket.

Even Danno, a fellow who was a regular and enthusiastic commentor on here for years, told me recently that because of last year, he barely pays attention now.

It hit us hard, that pathetic display by the Montreal Canadiens last year, and now WTF? Younger fans with favourite players might stay true and sort of excited, but guys like me are getting the shit pounded out of our hearts and the times they are a changin.

Danny Gallivan, where are you? Come down and help make hockey magical again.

Michel Therrien needed to go. Something that Dra58 (Dan in Malone NY) has been saying all along, year after year. He recognized the ‘boring, dump and chase, don’t take chances’ Therrien style, and hated it. Echoed by Peter Rherbergen in Chesley, Ontario who nicknamed Therrien ‘Thornbush’ and who has called for the coach’s head for several years.

Peter says today: “It’s Valentine’s Day, and Bergevin showed us some love. The boys can be creative again. Emelin will horizontalize folks again, Weber may return to being a force, Galchenyuk will gain confidence, Shaw will learn grit within the rules.

Peter has always complained that Therrien has stifled certain players’ creativity, including PK Subban’s. And the way the benchboss gave Desharnais such major minutes is a big head scratcher.

Dishonest John in Kenora, Ont is another one. “Yup, as each day went by in this break I was thinking there was less and less of a chance this could happen. Now I’m over the moon.”

I’ll bet it’s the first time his high school students heard the old man yelp during math class.

We needed Michel Therrien gone for the sake of our health. Much of our mental stability was at stake. Although some of it was our own fault.

But imagine now if the thing continues to slide with Julien behind the bench. What a mess it would become. Another chapter of the big time soap opera called the Montreal Canadiens.  Equal parts sad and interesting soap opera.

Most of Montreal, plus fans everywhere else like you and me and Dan and Danno and Mike and Peter and Dishonest John, would need some serious drinks and drugs if the mess gets messier.

No way can we have a repeat of last year. So Therrien had to go.

Habs Rock Rangers

The Canadiens rebound from a 7-1 trouncing on Thursday in Minnesota to edge the visiting New York Rangers 5-4 at the Bell on Saturday night, and church bells ring throughout the land.

So if you hear church bells on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it’s because the Habs won. What else could it be?

Not only did they win but they did it by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to do it. It’s almost religious.

The first period saw Andrew Shaw, returning from concussion, interfere in the crease which caused Phillip Danault’s goal to be called back,  the team was scored upon with Shaw in the box, and to cap off the night for the returning not-so-bright forward, he blindsided Jesper Fast and received a five minute major and game misconduct.

Too much energy and adrenaline for Shaw, and not enough brain cells turned on. But whatever. The team won. And regardless of the lack of brain cells, at least Shaw plays with an edge.

I’ve been whining that the Canadiens have been too full of peace and love for a decade. Time to be mean assholes. But probably a bit smarter than Shaw on this night.

Alex Galchenyuk, back from sick bay after more than a month, tied the game with a deflection, but quickly the visitors went ahead after Alexei Emelin took the man but forgot the puck, and Rick Nash banged it home.

But….I don’t understand.

Kevin Hayes barged in, wrapped his skate behind Carey Price’s pad, and dragged the poor bastard out of the crease, thereby giving Nash the open net. The play was reviewed and the goal stood.

How come? Please tell me. Maybe Kerry Fraser can explain. I’ll watch for it.

Things were heating up, and the Bell Centre patrons sat up. Brian Flynn would shove it home to tie the game at 2-2, but tragically, our man Chucky would lose the puck along the boards, reliable old Shea Weber was beaten cleanly, it was 3-2 Rangers, and life wasn’t worth living.

Until it was.

The third frame saw Alexei Emelin fire a wrist shot home from the blueline to put things at 3-3, then Max would outrace two d-men to put the boys ahead 4-3, and Paul Byron would give them a beauty of two goal, 5-3 lead.

The Rangers would make it 5-4 with 5:07 left, but that was the best the Broadway Blueshirts could do.

Habs win 5-4. And please don’t fret about Carey Price’s mediocre play lately, or cracks in defence, or this or that. This is the regular season, where we only have to be concerned about them making the playoffs, which they will.

The regular season is only a rehearsal, a fine-tuning, a time to get the gang ready for opening night – the playoffs. I’m sure Marlon Brando was an asshole sometimes before the cameras rolled, and then rallied to give the performance of his life.

That’s the Habs. Ups, downs, fine tuning, readying for the curtain to rise.

Random Notes:

The Rangers outshot Montreal 33-32. Price came up big a bunch of times.

Next up – two tough games on the horizon. Detroit on Monday, and at home to greet Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Explosion At The Bell

I’ll take a nice, tidy 10-1 thumping any time. Too bad it wasn’t against Ottawa, Boston, or Toronto, and so what that the cellar-dwelling Avs were truly lousy on this night. It’s still good. Great even.

It’s also too bad it wasn’t against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who demolished the Canadiens 10-0 back on November 4th.

I wouldn’t have minded 12 or 15 goals, because I’m a greedy bastard. But when you see your team rack up six goals in the first period alone, heady thoughts creep in. Like 12 or 15 goals when all is said and done.

Oh, they’re not suppose to rack up the score? Hey, what’s a dozen or so goals among friends?

It was a fine night at the old (opened in 1996) Bell Centre, with Max Pacioretty scoring four times and adding an assist, Tomas Plekanec racking up four helpers, and a whack of others lighting the lamp or helping to light the lamp.

Just too bad Shea Weber didn’t get on the score sheet. He leads that fellow in Nashville by just 1 point (at this writing), and I’d prefer that our guy had a way better year than that guy. Twice as good, Three times even.

It was just one of those nights. The Canadiens were clicking. Max was flying. Alexander Radulov, with a goal and an assist, was inspiring. The fourth line, led by Brian Flynn was two goals, were demons.

It was time for early Ole Ole’s and a late Na Na Na Goodbye. Time for stress-free watching, some chuckles, some completely relaxed viewing of the boys blitzing the Avs.

But then there was the Alexei Emelin low hit on Joe Colborne late in the game that had commentator Gary Galley seething. Galley said there was no need for it. I say hit ’em for 60 minutes, 10 goals or not.

I think Don Cherry pooh-poohed it too. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention to the old fellow.

And why won’t Emelin fight when the shit hit the fan, asked Galley? Probably because he has metal plates under his left eye, Gary. The guy’s on the team because he’s a bone bruiser, he hits harder than most. It’s his job. What if Colborne had danced around Emelin and caused a crease-crashing that injured Carey Price?

Nope. Stop ’em in his tracks. Old time hockey. Montreal has seven forwards under 6 feet. A little meanness shown by anyone is a welcomed sight in this corner.

Colborne might have his head up next time he waltzes down the right side. And most players from other teams will see it on the news and possibly be a bit more tentative when they come up against Emelin.

Oh, and maybe it was slightly dirty. I don’t give a shit.

A beauty shellacking on home ice. Fifteen goals scored in two games. What a machine!

Bring on the Bruins (Monday).

Random Notes:

Habs scoring went like this:

1st period – Flynn, Pacioretty, Lehkonen, Pacioretty, Byron, Flynn.

2nd period – Radulov, Pacioretty, Petry.

3rd period – Pacioretty

 

Byron And Price Seal Win

A young man wearing a turban with three eyes

It was one eye on the game, one eye on the U.S. election, and one eye on closing day at Classic Auctions’ fall auction, where I was selling some of my stuff.

But with the first eye I saw the Canadiens dropkick the Boston Bruins 3-2 at the Bell Centre, after Paul Byron notched the winner with just 1:02 remaining, and with Carey Price once again holding the fort and racking up first star on the night.

Better than the Habs’ showing against the Leafs eleven days ago. A slight improvement over their game against Philly four days ago. And it goes without saying, a major league improvement over the 10-0 debacle in Columbus five days ago.

But they were still outshot badly against the Bs, 41-23, but maybe it’s not even worth mentioning. They’re badly outshot every game.

The first period saw the home team with more jump than we’ve seen lately, like they were truly focused on waking from their coma. Either that or the wives kicked them into the spare room in the basement.

But even so, Boston outshot the boys 14-5, so jump or no jump, some cracks still aren’t filled.

In the second frame, Shea Weber would open the scoring on the power play with his patented blast from the blueline, but less than a minute later, Boston evened things up.

And then, just twenty seconds later, Alex Galchenyuk lit the lamp and the crowd, as they say, went wild.

In the final frame, Boston would convert on their power play with Alexei Emelin in the box, and it was finally left to Byron to come through in the end.

You have to think that 10 wins in the last 11 games isn’t all that bad, even with a 10-0 loss thrown in. Kind of what Michel Therrien was saying in his press conference earlier.

The Vancouver Canucks would kill for that record.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were 1/2 on the power play (Weber).

Weber’s goal was his fourth power play marker, and his fifth overall of this young season. Chucky’s goal was also his fifth.

Alex Radulov collected 2 assists on the night, and is tied with Weber and Galchenyuk with 11 points so far this season.

Canadiens record stands at 11-1-1.

Worth mentioning, and a play that really caught one of my eyes’ attention – Jeff Petry crushed Ryan Spooner into the boards in Emelin, Weber-type fashion. Beauty, eh?

Next up – Thursday, when the boys host the L.A. Kings.

Finally I can rest one eye. And the other two are beginning to get tired.